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Gentiana propinqua Richards.

NMNH - Botany Dept.

Stephen Arnold Douglas

National Portrait Gallery
The presidential election of 1860 was the second time that Stephen Douglas had faced Abraham Lincoln in a political contest. The first had occurred in 1858, when Lincoln unsuccessfully tried to take Douglas's seat in the U.S. Senate. This carving is thought to be a memento of that occasion, and its unknown maker probably intended it as a mate to a similar surviving carving of Lincoln. A contemporary once described Douglas as a "lively five-footer full of brains, bounce, and swagger." Despite its primitive aspect, the carving seems to bear out that description.

Review Committee Selections: Stephen Zatto, Pamela Del Aura, Chuck Richards, Laura Reed Kinney

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Poster/ announcement printed in black for Detroit Focus Gallery exhibition, designed o be mailed. Text in a variety of sizes, styles throughout.

Recto: Across upper third of sheet, text giving exhibtion title curves. Across center, text giving participating artists and abstract geometric images. Across lower left edge, text giving location, contact information. Across lower third of sheet, text giving recetion, juror, and additional information, interspersed with abstarct geometric images.

Verso: Across center, text giving title ripples over grouping of abstracted objects including a pen, pot, exacto knife. Across lower third of sheet, sponsors and mailing information.

Portrait of Stephen Manuel

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Museum Shops Staff Member Helen Stephens

Smithsonian Institution Archives
Also known as 75-9071-8.

Original film available in SIA Acc. 11-009.

Featured in the "Torch," September 1975.

Helen Stephens checks in jewelry at Museum Shop in National Museum of History and Technology, now known as National Museum of American History.

R.H. Davis, Stephen Bonsal, Caspar Whitney, and Frederic Remington

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; image 12 x 17 cm. on board 15 x 19 cm. Remington and friends seated on a porch, Remington at far right, smoking a pipe.
Identification above image (handwritten): Davis, R.H.; Bonsal, Stephen; Whitney, Caspar; Remington, Frederic.
Date based on approximate age of sitters in photograph.

Butterfly genome reveals promiscuous exchange of mimicry adaptations among species

Smithsonian Libraries
The evolutionary importance of hybridization and introgression has long been debated(1). Hybrids are usually rare and unfit, but even infrequent hybridization can aid adaptation by transferring beneficial traits between species. Here we use genomic tools to investigate introgression in Heliconius, a rapidly radiating genus of neotropical butterflies widely used in studies of ecology, behaviour, mimicry and speciation(2-5). We sequenced the genome of Heliconius melpomene and compared it with other taxa to investigate chromosomal evolution in Lepidoptera and gene flow among multiple Heliconius species and races. Among 12,669 predicted genes, biologically important expansions of families of chemosensory and Hox genes are particularly noteworthy. Chromosomal organization has remained broadly conserved since the Cretaceous period, when butterflies split from the Bombyx (silkmoth) lineage. Using genomic resequencing, we show hybrid exchange of genes between three co-mimics, Heliconius melpomene, Heliconius timareta and Heliconius elevatus, especially at two genomic regions that control mimicry pattern. We infer that closely related Heliconius species exchange protective colour-pattern genes promiscuously, implying that hybridization has an important role in adaptive radiation.

Portrait of Richard Wilson

National Museum of American History
This signed and dated portrait was made in 1904. The sketch is in pencil with pen and ink additions.

Stephen Hawking, the Expansive Cosmologist Who Shone Light on the Universe, Has Died at 76

Smithsonian Magazine

Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking has died at the age of 76, reports Dennis Overbye at The New York Times. Hawking was one of the most well-known scientists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, recognized for his work on black holes, his efforts to communicate complex cosmology to the general public and a sense of humor said to be "as vast as the universe."

Despite a grim diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease—at the age of 21 that gave him just a few years to live, Hawking survived another 55 years, cruising around the world in an electric wheelchair and speaking through his iconic speech synthesizer during the last 30 years of his life.

Condolences have poured in from mourners from around the world, including U.K. prime minister Theresa May, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and theoretical physicist Michio Kaku who told Overbye, “Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world.”

According to his family, Hawking passed away peacefully at his home early on Wednesday morning. “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” his children Lucy, Robert and Tim write in a statement. “His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. He once said, ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him forever.”

After a childhood spent in Oxford and St. Albans, Hawking attended university at Oxford before moving to Cambridge for his PhD work. There he began work on singularities, or points in space where the gravity of a collapsing star would warps space-time into an infinitely dense point, creating a black hole.

According to his friend and collaborator Roger Penrose, who penned an obituary in The Guardian, the pair worked together to show that if there was a big bang that started the universe, it originated from a singularity. In 1974, Hawking released his most famous academic paper detailing what became known as Hawking radiation. Contrary to previous theories about black holes, he showed that they radiate energy, gradually losing mass in the process. Ian Sample at The Guardian reports that for very small black holes, that radiation would eventually lead to a massive explosion, releasing 1 million megatons of energy.

The BBC reports that discovery pushed Hawking into one of the great physics debates of recent decades, the information paradox. Hawking argued that any information—in particular things like the spin, mass and temperature of particles entering a black hole—would be destroyed when the black hole evaporated away or exploded. Others argued that the information would be preserved and released eventually released by the black hole. In 2004, while in a pub with some of his students, Sample reports, Hawking cranked up the mic on his synthesizer and made a public declaration that he relented and agreed that information would be preserved by black holes, though exactly how that information escapes when the black hole dissipates is up for debate.

While his academic achievements earned him countless honors, including the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, the chair held by Sir Isaac Newton and other luminaries in math and physics, and election to the Royal Society at the very young age of 32, Hawking is arguably best known to the general public as a science communicator. In 1988, he published A Brief History of Time, a synthesis of cosmology and his own work on black holes for layman scientists that has sold 10 million copies. The book spawned a documentary and illustrated edition that made Hawking one of the most recognized scientists in the world.

In a follow-up book, 1993’s Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, he explained his motivation for taking his work directly to the public. “If we do discover a complete theory [of the universe], it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists,” he wrote. “Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we would know the mind of God.” (Hawking was using the term "God" loosely. He was a vocal atheist and was not a fan of organized religion.)

In other popular books, Hawking continued to bring cosmology to the mainstream, and became a popular figure himself. He appeared on television shows including “The Simpsons,” “Big Bang Theory” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and his voice was also included on the 1994 Pink Floyd album The Division Bell. He was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in the 2004 dramatization of his early life Hawking and by Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar in 2014 for his portrayal of the physicist in The Theory of Everything, which told the story of his first marriage and how he dealt with his diagnosis of ALS.

Overbye opines that the most incredible part of Hawking’s life is the fact that he had a life and career at all. While ALS, a motor neuron disease, often kills people who have it relatively quickly, Hawking’s disease progressed slowly. In the 1970s, he slowly lost the ability to walk and his speech weakened. After a bought of pneumonia in 1984, he lost his speech. A colleague outfitted him with his iconic speech synthesizer that allowed him to select letters and words via a small joystick and later by moving his eyes and twitching his cheek. (He complained, however, that the synthesizer gave him an American accent.)

Hawking continued traveling the globe, giving lectures and visiting new places, such as Antarctica, where he celebrated his 60th birthday with a hot-air balloon ride. Among his many adventures, the British cosmologist once experienced floating weightlessly in a zero-gravity on a Boeing 727. He was also known to zoom around Cambridge in his electric wheelchair at unsafe speeds. He was never able to make a trip into space, something he had planned with Richard Branson, who in 2017 offered him a seat on a future Virgin Galactic flight. “I want to show that people need not be limited by physical handicaps as long as they are not disabled in spirit,” as he told Overbye in an interview a decade earlier, back in 2007.

In recent years, Hawking has become something of a public intellectual with reporters asking his opinions on many subjects. Most famously, in 2010, Hawking suggested that making contact with aliens would be a bad idea, and that the outcome would be similar to when Columbus made contact with Native Americans. He offered similar warnings about the development of unregulated artificial intelligence in 2014.

Just last week, he was in the news for discussing what the universe might have been like before the Big Bang—a complex topic that required physics, astronomy, and an outsized human imagination to distill down for the public. A topic, in other words, that was perfectly suited to Hawking.

Curses! For Medicinal Use Only

Smithsonian Magazine

Isn't it great when science justifies your vices? Never mind all the research on the purported health benefits of red wine or chocolate. My new favorite sin-rationalization study shows that swearing is good for you. It seems to decrease pain.

This is one of those slap-your-forehead, why-didn't-I-think-of-that studies. People have been screaming curse words when they're in pain since well before the dawn of social science, but a new study in NeuroReport seems to be the first to address whether the swearing helps the hurt. The answer wasn't obvious: the authors point out that swearing might amplify the emotional experience of pain and make it even worse.

In one of this year's more absurd experimental designs (and a strong contender for the IgNobel Awards), Richard Stephens of Keele University and colleagues had volunteers dip their hands in buckets of ice water. That's not the absurd part. The "cold pressor pain tolerance test" is a standard lab procedure for inducing pain—it's safe and cheap, and pain tolerance is easily measured as the amount of time people can stand to keep their hands in the water. The fun part is that the researchers asked volunteers to repeatedly speak either a neutral word of their choice or a swear word of their choice. (I know what my choice would be.) The people who swore were able to withstand the ice bath for a longer time.

The researchers have some ideas about why swearing helps—in the study, curse words increased heart rate relative to the innocuous words, so perhaps swearing activates the fight-or-flight response, which can decrease pain perception. In any case, the next time you pound your thumb while hammering, shouting your curse of choice might be the best medicine.

Patent Model for a Rotary Perfecting Press

National Museum of American History
This patent model demonstrates an invention for a rotary printing press which was granted patent number 131217. The invention offers a new system of feeding, carrying, and delivering sheets for rotary perfecting presses. The model consists of the central group of feeding cylinders. According to Stephen D. Tucker’s History of R. Hoe & Company, a press on this plan was capable of printing 8000 sheets per hour and was used successfully by the New York Daily News.

Patent Model for Rotary Perfecting Presses

National Museum of American History
This patent model demonstrates an invention for a rotary perfecting press which was granted patent number 92050. The patent details improvements to sheet- or web-fed perfecting presses. Instead of being attached to the impression cylinder, the press blanket was an endless web that travelled with the paper and acted as its support. The press was patented in England in 1871 (Patent 1825 to W.E.Newton).

Patent Model for Flatbed Cylinder Printing Presses

National Museum of American History
This patent model demonstrates an invention for a flatbed printing press; the invention was granted patent number 173295. The patent describes improvements to the movement of the bed, the sheet fly, and the inking table of cylinder presses.

Patent Model for a Flatbed Cylinder Printing Press

National Museum of American History
This patent model demonstrates an invention for a flatbed cylinder printing press which was granted patent number 108785. The patent details methods of controlling the motion of the type bed. The model is broken.

Anthurium rimbachii Sodiro

NMNH - Botany Dept.

Bill Clinton and Dick Morris

National Portrait Gallery
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